“I think posting a question or, you know, put up a notice, you know the tutorial is going to be in two weeks’ time on whatever date it is and asking a question, here’s what we’ll be discussing and I’d like you to come in with a question or I’d like you to look at a particular aspect. So, they’re actually coming to the tutorial with a question or a remark or an opinion in mind and I think that helps. Then I would ask them one by one to contribute speaking, not just in the chat box. So, I would expect them to have something done on a topic before the tutorial and I found that really helps.”
(Educator quoted in Farrell et al., 2019, p. 23)
Keeping students engaged
There can be an initial flurry of activity at the beginning of a course, both from students and educators.
It is essential to reignite student interest at regular intervals during the course.
Key to keeping students engaged is regular opportunities for interaction and feedback.
- Monitor student understanding at regular intervals during the course and adjust your teaching accordingly.
- For example, use short quizzes to capture student understanding of concepts.
- Create novel activities such as online debates or online collaborative mind mapping exercises.
- Provide activities that ensure effective feedback can be sought and received.
- For example, ask students to submit a draft assignment along with one or two questions about where they require feedback for the final draft.
- Provide individualised constructive feedback that points the student towards further information.
- Use teaching strategies that are effective for the particular discipline and content.
- For example, use synchronous live chats to establish students’ current understanding of a concept they have just covered.
- It can be beneficial to have a group project midway through the course.
- Prior notice of this will help students focus on engaging with learning materials early on in the course.
- However, there are challenges associated with collaborative activities which you need to bear in mind.
In this chapter, we looked at how to support online students.
You can access a downloadable copy of the material here: Supporting Students.